September 25, 2009

Isn't Tom Friedman just Malcolm Gladwell with a Mustache?




Thomas Friedman335230105
David Brooks282141141
Charles Krauthammer2811280
George Will24623223
Paul Krugman1821811
David Broder16510659
E.J. Dionne1471434
Karl Rove1261125
Peggy Noonan101596
William Kristol91586
From National Journal, a sister mag of The Atlantic, comes the the Top Ten pundits among DC Insiders: "In conjunction with The Atlantic Wire, National Journal asked its panel of Congressional and Political Insiders to rank, one-through-five, those columnists, bloggers, and television or radio commentators who most help to shape their own opinion or worldview." (Total points are the leftmost column of numbers, then points from Democrats, then points from Republicans.)

Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought that, by now, Tom Friedman was widely recognized to be a doofus. Not inside the Washington Echo Chamber, apparently. Here are raves from the Ruling Class about Mister Mustache:
Thomas Friedman

Democratic Insider: "Has attained that watercooler status of 'Did you read what Friedman had to say today?' Analysis of issues and policy implications often reveals ones that readers might not see themselves."

Republican Insider: "An interesting blend of a liberal and a realist and a man ahead of his time on energy and green issues."

D: "I've never read or listened to anyone who is better prepared, smarter, and more insightful. The premier thinker and writer in the group--yet presents so abrasively."

R: "He'd be a lot more influential if he'd actually return a phone call."

How many of the Top Ten were stridently wrong about Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

22 comments:

CJ said...

Oooh. Check the Democrat love for Krauthammer. Precisely one (1) vote. He's not a social conservative, rarely insults individuals personally, and yet his vote count shows the biggest Democrat-Republican cleavage of them all. I can understand why no Democrats would give any props to Karl Rove (who I don't much care for myself) but I'm a little surprised they hate Krauthammer that much.

Novaseeker said...

Another interesting confirmation, there, that Brooks is now basically a Republicrat thanks to kow-towing to his employers at the New York Times.

You have to remember as well that the nattering classes in Washington are easily impressed by someone like Friedman, because even though many things he says don't pan out the way he says them, he peddles himself as more erudite than he really is, and that goes down pretty well at your average Washington elite Bethesda dinner party.

Henry Canaday said...

Friedman is the Jewish Scotty Reston, ladling out middlebrow banalities for the emotional reassurance of his readership. Reston made a great living and reputation in the late 1950s and early 1960s reporting on his lunches with people whom his readers wanted to have lunch with. He even made the cover of Time, an honor I do not think was given to any other columnist, expect maybe Walter Lippman. And Lippman was, at least in his youth, a dazzling writer and pretty fair thinker.

I used to respect the New York Times up through the 1980s, precisely because its columnists were so lousy. I figured this reflected the editors’ judgment that columns were opinions and all opinions were useless anyway, compared with facts. The Times was, at least when Rosenthal was editing it, pretty reliable on facts.

But those days are gone now. As MacArthur said on the plains of West Point, “they have vanished in tone and tint.”

Anonymous said...

"An interesting blend of a liberal and a realist and a man ahead of his time on energy and green issues."

The future probably belongs to China, and the Chinese couldn't care less about this Gaia worship lunacy. Therefore, for Friedman to be truly ahead of his times on "green issues", he'd have to regard them as a joke. But this is obviously not what the person quoted above meant. He simply meant that to him Friedman was "good" on "green issues". And being "ahead of his times" is simply one of the many synonyms for "good" in this man's mind. He just as well might have said that Friedman was courageous on green issues.

What raises this to the level of humor is that an obsession with "green issues" is currently the party line in the world in which Friedman operates. It wasn't the party line there 5 years ago and it will probably be replaced by something else 5 years from now, but right now, at this political moment, every PC person is required to regard this issue as ueber important. So he's WITH his times, not ahead of them here. It's like wearing a clip-on tie in 1983 or "grungy" t-shirts in 1992.

Jim O said...

I love the way Friedman says "the next six months are critical" when ever he talks about Iraq. He says it with such conviction. He said it in 2003, 2004, 2005, . . .

Jim Bowery said...

OK, so none of these guys saw the economic collapse coming and the top one was "stridently wrong" about the most important issue of the first decade of the 21st century.

Exactly who the hell cares about these guys other than folks looking for a Federal government bailout of the newspapers?

Robert said...

"How many of the Top Ten were stridently wrong about Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction?"

Well, that's hardly a point against them, since, by your lights, the CIA, the intelligence units of all Europe and even Saddam himself was wrong about Saddam's WMD.

James Kabala said...

I would say five were stridently wrong: Friedman, Brooks, Krauthammer, Rove, and Kristol.

My memory is vague on the positions of the other five, but I would guess Will, Broder, and Noonan were for the war, but not fanatical about it, and Krugman and (maybe) Dionne were against the war. Corrections are welcome.

Anonymous said...

"Oooh. Check the Democrat love for Krauthammer."

I was actually shocked by that too. How can Kristol get more Dem votes than him when he is far more hawkish and even less willing to criticize his own party?

albertosaurus said...

Steve,

You can never get into this circle because you live in California.

When I was in high school I met both Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. Why? Because of all my powerful political and family connections? No. Because I went to high school in Washington DC.

J. Edgar Hoover lived on my paper route. I used to run into Ralph Nader all the time.

Just being in town makes you eligible to be a policy pundit and have your every silly opinion over appreciated.

There is no benefit of correctness in political punditry. Understanding economic theory for example hardly matters to those who get to write about economic policy. Much more important are personal connections and ideological stance.

Tom Friedman seems like just another chucklehead who you might meet on a typical college campus spouting his "insights". But he is a well connected chucklehead.

David said...

> by your lights, the CIA, the intelligence units of all Europe and even Saddam himself was wrong about Saddam's WMD. <

By your lights? Is there actually a character out there who still buh-lieves? Bush himself has admitted there were none, and so have the surviving members of the rest of your list.

> How many of the Top Ten were stridently wrong about Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction? <

I knew something smelled in about June 2002. Many people knew much sooner than that. Including "the CIA, the intelligence units of all Europe and even Saddam himself." (Including Saddam gives the show away. A liars gallery!)

Just as there are still Vietnam vet dead-enders, so there will be WMD dead-enders for a long time, apparently. Biggest larf I had in a while was a few years back when they pulled some rusty tin can out of someone's back yard in Iraq and claimed it was a "Weapon of Mass Destruction"! Proof positive! That appeared, I believe, on World Nut Daily.

Anonymous said...

What "War"?

There was shock and awe for a week or two, then an open-ended [open-pursed] commitment to nation-building.

And with no attempt to remove the Koran [& the Hadith] from the picture, it's all pointless.

tommy said...

Elite pundits went from Arendt to Flat Worlds and Bobos.

How the snooty have fallen!

Maybe the DC-NYC punditocracy should be rechristened "the proligentsia" in light of their new low-brow tastes.

tommy said...

I love the way Friedman says "the next six months are critical" when ever he talks about Iraq. He says it with such conviction. He said it in 2003, 2004, 2005, . . .

Give the man a break! Time may not be measured the same on that flat world Friedman alone inhabits.

airtommy said...

Thomas Friedman serves an important purpose in journalism: He brings out the best in Matt Taibbi (he's a gift that keeps on
giving. It is hard to imagine people taking Friedman seriously.

Anonymous said...

"Tom Friedman seems like just another chucklehead who you might meet on a typical college campus spouting his "insights". But he is a well connected chucklehead."

I think it's fair to say he wouldn't be were he is today without his famous last name.

John Seiler said...

There isn't one independent thinker among that group, except George Will (sometimes). Why even read them? The NYT and WaPo are America's Pravda and Izvestia, mouthpieces for the regime.

Real independent thinkers include Steve Sailer, Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran (mostly retired), Lew Rockwell (and several others at his site and blog), Steven Greenhut, some writers at Takimag.com and ChroniclesMagazine.org (such as Thomas Fleming), as well as some bloggers.

"Independent thinkers" are like Mencken and Chesterton: like them or hate them, they're owned by nobody; their views are their own and worth reading. And they have a style that's their own.

David Davenport said...

..even Saddam himself was wrong about Saddam's WMD

But Saddam knew that Saddam was bluffing.

Svigor said...

I love the reaction to the failure to find WMD in Iraq: "yeah but that's because the evil bastard moved them to Syria just before we invaded."

LOL. Never mind what that says about his willingness to use them against Americans.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Steve I remember you linked to a video of Friedman, I think where he said "why did we invade Iraq? Short answer: because we could," or some such. To me, that video explained the whole reason people respect Friedman, and it particularly explains why "insiders" may respect him even more than your typical NYTimes reader.

His reputation doesn't rest on his *writing* at all. He's the sort of guy who would make (has made?) a terrific con artist: his whole influence over people comes from his tone of voice, gestures, eye contact. Watch that video, or some other one, without thinking about the stupidity of what he's saying, and just think about how he's saying it.

I'll bet a lot of these people who think highly of Tom Friedman have spoken to him personally, maybe often, and certainly they've all seen him on news programs and such. That's where this incomprehensible regard is coming from.

none of the above said...

There are a lot of independent thinkers available if you're willing to look. There are also party-line thinkers from much more than two parties, which can offer some big insights, even when you disagree with the main thrust of those parties. Thank God for the net, which makes this stuff easy to find for anyone interested in looking.

But MSM pundits are not selected for interesting insights, any more than they're selected for being right very often. I think they're selected for defending pre-defined political positions well within the Overton window.

Even among the influential pundits, some of these guys don't really do that--Greenwald and Sullivan both seem to me to be their own men in terms of ideas and beliefs. (I don't read much by most of the people on that list, so maybe many others on the list also have interesting things to say.)

Dan said...

He's all right on things green, but on war he's total doofus or as I call it, BSI. I do like that Brooks split. Everyone else but Bergan is preaching to the converted.

Learn about BSI here.

http://klogtheblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/thomas-friedman-is-bsi/